Sisterhood Blog

'Broad City' Lady Stoners a Feminist Triumph

By Sarah Seltzer

  • Print
  • Share Share

I love the pot-puffing Jewish broads of Broad City (both of whom the Forward recently interviewed about their very raunchy new Comedy Central show.) The show’s protagonists are “Abbi” (left in the photo) and “Ilana” (right), heightened versions of their creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. These gals are not “strong female characters” in the classic sense, but they are strong female characters in another sense that is too absent from our pop culture: they are total screw-ups.

A lot of women, even feminists, may be uncomfortable watching other women embrace the silliness of playing slackers, layabout and stoners who fall asleep on the toilet, get maced by their neighbors and blow smoke at each other through Skype, but I find in the show’s very existence a refreshing dose of equality, like “Girls” without the self-seriousness sentimentality. There is little friendship drama between Abbi and Ilana: they are both just fairly selfish but mutually devoted young women trying to scrape by with enough weed to make it through their crappy days.

When I was just starting out as a journalist, one of the first articles I ever wrote that resonated more widely than I expected appeared in Bitch magazine, a long “think piece” about the lack of stoner and geek movies featuring women. This was during the “Knocked Up” era, the glory days of the Judd Apatow manchild/bromance genre, and the ensuing backlash against it. While some feminists were irked at the glorification of childish men in these films, my complaint was more complex. I felt that if childish egotism is a funny trait we enjoy watching on our screens it shouldn’t be confined to one gender. Let both genders share the immense privilege of letting us laugh at their folly.

I complained in the piece that I’d never see a group of girl nerds smoking a bowl together on TV, that “no mainstream movie or TV series would dare group so many female nerds together, or celebrate them so unabashedly.” Well, Abbi and Ilana aren’t exactly nerds, but they have a dorky quality and they smoke bowls together, so I declare myself satisfied.

In the world of drama, of course, good roles aren’t necessarily “good” roles — Lady Macbeth is a coveted role even if she’s not a feminist role model, for instance. And in the case of “Broad City,” I would say that these bad girls are great for all girls. Women face enormous pressure to be well-groomed, healthy, fit, and to keep our appetites and desires for pleasure to ourselves. But Abbi and Ilana are very in touch with their ids, and they pursue their desires with zeal, but incompetent zeal. I love it. Take that, patriarchy.

Photo credit BroadCityTheShow.com


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jewish, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, marijuana

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.